By Rachel Tan
You can often get a sense of a restaurant based on the quality of its bread basket. It’s both a visual attraction as well as a sensory opening salvo. If that bread basket just features one thing, it better be fantastic.
At Allium, inside The Four Seasons Hotel downtown, they begin their weekend brunch ($58 per person) with one of the best examples of an all-star starch, which also happens to be sweet.
Labeled the “Cast Iron Pecan Pull Apart,” the very name lends itself to a sticky, soft and moist carb. Expect doughy quarters of bread covered in whole pecans with a caramel glaze stuffed into an adorable cast iron skillet that helps give the exterior a lovely charred, crusty quality. Best of all, it’s not overly sugary. Consume all you want at the intersection of cinnamon roll and sticky bun.
Believe it or not there will still be room after the pecan behemoth. Thankfully, Allium’s brunch allows diners to stay seated for a majority of the meal to help us digest. Tasting portions are served at the table followed by a choice of main course. A dessert bar of petite treats awaits at the end.
A tower of finger foods such as bison bolognese sandwiched between brioche and open-faced smoked salmon atop potato “pizzettes” are so artfully decorated it begs a picture. Flavors reflect the seasons and Executive Chef Kevin Hickey‘s farm-to-table philosophy.
Mains include an assortment of sweet and savory. Get a sugar rush with PB & J French toast or go the extra mile with Wagyu skirt steak and eggs. I opted for the Wisconsin walleye – a saturated plate of color. It had an excellent sear that preserved the elasticity of the fish while retaining its moisture and natural flavor. A grapefruit vinaigrette infused a wonderful summery quality to the meat – an unexpected pairing.
The food at Allium is refined and elegant, creative and whimsical. With its unexpected use of familiar flavors, Allium offers food that is both beautiful and substantial. The brunch is well-paced, well-portioned and delicious; it’s worth at least one visit. Although the bread might bring you back more frequently.